Monday, September 24, 2018

Mary My Mom hears the word of God and keeps it.

“Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.”  Jesus said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”  (Luke 8: 20 - 21).

Did Mary and the brethren of Jesus make a mistake in visiting Jesus at work? Be that as it may, Jesus seizes the opportunity to point to His mother Mary as a model of a servant of God who hears the word of God and observes it. (Cf Luke 11: 28).

Mary heard the proposal to become the mother of the Redeemer and replied at once:
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." (Luke 1: 38).

The word of God says: 
"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37: 4).
Mary replies:  "How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." 
(Luke 1: 47).  Jesus made Mary Mother, Teacher and Queen.

Simeon the old Prophet says to Mary:  "A sword will pierce your very soul." (Luke 2: 35).  Mary bowed her head in acceptance and complete surrender to the will of God.
At the foot of the Cross where Mary stood still like a statue, she heard Jesus moan:  "Where is my mother?"  Mary groaned in silence accepting the immolation of her Son and offering Him to the Eternal Father.

At every moment of Mary's life, we see a woman who lives by this word of God:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of God, and he will make straight your paths." 
(Proverbs 3: 5).

No wonder all generations continue to call Mary blessed. (Luke 1: 48).
The promise of Jesus is still true for you and for me:
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
(Luke 8: 21).

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Use your light or it will be taken away.

 “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light."  (Luke 8: 16).

Baptism places the light of Christ in us.  Like one lighted candle, this light becomes many lighted candles in us as we grow in our Christian life through prayer, word of God, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Examination of Conscience, Spiritual Reading and Ministry.

Do you conceal your light or do you share it through how you talk and act?  How we talk and act is a witness to who we are. Jesus has given us His light for a purpose.

We also are called to witness through special gifts.
"He gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,  to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."  (Ephesians 4: 11 - 12).

Jesus concludes today's teaching with a warning:
"To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”

Use it or lose it.

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Son of Man is delivered to you in the Eucharist.

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.”  (Mark 9: 31).

"handed over" means:

"delivered into the hands of men." 
You know how UPS delivers a parcel to you.
"is to be betrayed into human hands."
"will be given to men"

It is sad to see that Jesus Christ is still being handed over, betrayed and delivered to us today?

The Son of Man is still being delivered to us every day in the Eucharist and in the Tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament. Instead of adoration and worship, He is neglected and sometimes despised.

"I was lonely and waiting for you in the Blessed Sacrament. You never visited Me." What will be your defense?  "Lord if I knew you were truly there, I would visit you every day."
"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
(John 13:17)

"God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
(Cf 2 Thessalonians 2: 14).

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Friday, September 21, 2018

You can deal with anxiety.

"The seed is the word of God."  (Luke 8: 11).

We are the soil.

The Parable of the Sower is one of the best known of Jesus' parables and can be considered the most consequential.  Each person can easily recognize himself as a type of soil. "The seed that fell among thorns" gives us a template of which novels and movies are made.  From rags to riches and riches to rags.
The world is full of anxiety, fear and doubt.  Jesus says that these emotions are lethal for the implanted life of God in the soul.

"As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit."  (Luke 8: 14).

How do we deal with anxiety? Two simple tools of Jesus:
#1 Prayer.
#2  Word of God.

Simple prayer of petition is always powerful. Example:  Lord help me overcome my anxiety. "Lord I am going to see the doctor, I am anxious. Please help me.  I am usually anxious at the end of the month because of the bills, help me Lord."  Make this simple prayer of petition habitual and you will be surprised to find how your stubborn anxieties are under control or completely eliminated.

The word of God is the promise of God.  God gives us these promises to help us live well.   I use the promises below frequently:

"Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."  (Isaiah 41: 10)

I count seven promises in the above Scripture verse. I claim them every morning.

"This I know: God is on my side!
I praise God for what he has promised; yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.  I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?"  (Psalm 56: 9 - 11 NLT).

It is powerful to remind God that you are asking for what He has promised. It gives you confidence.

The goal of the Christian life is to progressively make your soul a rich soil for the word of God.
"But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance." (Luke 8: 15).

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Matthew follow me.

"As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him."  (Matthew 9: 9).

Today is the Feast of St Matthew the Evangelist.

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,
says the Lord."  (Cf Matthew 28: 19 - 20).
Matthew recorded and carried out the above mission.  God chose Matthew into the intimate circle of Jesus with untold mercy.

Matthew accepted the call with generosity and then lived in a manner worthy of the call he received.  He used his old skill as a tax recorder to pen the Gospel that bears his name.

The call of Matthew is a story of mercy. The unfathomable mercy of God.  “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
(Matthew 9: 12 - 13).

Like Matthew, let us be ready at all times to be surprised by Mercy.  The Good News is the orchestration of Mercy. Be a part of that global orchestra.
Ask for Mercy.
Be Merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.

“Your sins are forgiven.....Go in peace.”  (Luke 7: 48, 50).

These are wonderful words of mercy to the sinful woman who bathed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped them with her hair. After kissing the feet, she anointed them with an expensive ointment.

What value do you place on sins?  Would you prefer to win a large lottery than to hear the words:
“Your sins are forgiven."  (Luke 7: 48).  St Paul gave this point blank message to the Corinthians: "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15: 3). If Christ died for our sins, then sin must be a pretty serious issue. Nobody dies for the outcome of a football game.

When you hear of Debt in Scriptures, you can safely substitute the word Sin.  A big Debt means a big Sin.  If a huge debt is wiped out, it means all sins, crimes, felonies have been forgiven in one merciful act of God.  How did the sinful woman able to figure out what Christ did for her?  The peace, joy and well-being she felt.

"How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me?"  (Psalm 116: 12).

Have you ever experienced the pure joy of reconciliation? How do you express your gratitude?

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever.
Let Israel say: his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Aaron say,
his mercy endures forever.
Let those who fear the Lord say,
his mercy endures forever."  (Psalm 118: 1 - 4).

The woman in this narrative could have answered her critics with these words:
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective."  (1 Corinthians 15: 10).

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Love bears all things.

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  (1 Corinthians 13: 7).

If a newly married couple asks you for an advice on how to make a success of their marriage, what would you say to them?

Consider the truth and the power of this word of God:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,  it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,  it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  (1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 7).

You might also consider putting this advice on a beautiful frame.  Make three copies: one for the bedroom, one for the living room and one for the dining room.  This is also good for examination of conscience before Reconciliation.  Your spiritual work of Mercy may be the best wedding gift anyone can receive.

"Love never fails."  (1 Corinthians 13: 8).  Of course!  Because God is love and God Never Fails!

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Jesus says to the widow: Do not weep.

“Young man, I tell you, arise!” (Luke 7: 14).

At this command of Jesus, the dead man, the son of the widow of Nain sat up. Jesus was moved to pity for her sorrowful and weeping mother and said to her:  "Do not weep."  (Luke 7: 13).

We rarely hear mention of widows in our modern society.  What happened to the widows?  Widows are permanent landmarks of the Bible: Old and New Testament.  Along with orphans and strangers, they form the trio that enjoy God's preferential privileges.  A few verses on the testimony of the Scriptures:

1.  "You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt.  You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.  If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry."  (Exodus 22: 20 - 22).

2. "For the Lord, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes,  who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving them food and clothing."  (Deuteronomy 10: 17 - 18).

3. "He [Elijah] called out to the Lord: “Lord, my God, will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying by killing her son?”  (1 Kings 17: 20).

4. "The Lord protects the resident alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked."  (Psalm 146: 9).

5.  "A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents."  (Mark 12: 42).

We can now see what informed Jesus' heart for the widow and the marginalized of society: the word of God.

"How precious is your mercy, O God!  The children of Adam take refuge in the shadow of your wings."  (Psalm 36: 8).

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

How do you use the power of the word?

"Say the word and let my servant be healed."  (Luke 7: 7).

The encounter of Jesus with the Roman Centurion teaches us two lessons:
#1. The power of the the word.
#2.  The power of faith.

Do you appreciate the power of the word?   How do you react when a police officer barks "STOP!"  You freeze at the location.  The authority of the army officer like the Centurion lies only in the power of his word.  Listen to the Centurion describes how it works:

"For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  (Luke 7: 8).

How about power of the word of Jesus.   It will be like comparing a 0.45 caliber pistol to an atomic blast.  God's power is in His word.  He created the world through His word.  "Let there be light."  Wow!  There was light! 

How was the Centurion able to figure out the power of Jesus?  Theologians teach that "grace builds on nature."   God gave the Centurion the natural grace of being a commanding officer.  When he heard of Jesus and His miracles, he understood what was going on. He believed! Jesus was impressed and answered his prayer.

“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”  (Luke 7: 9).

We too have the power of the word. The word of God is the promise of God. The word of God is His decree or law.  God wants us to use His words in prayer with expectant faith.  "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."  (John 14: 14).  Ask!

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

But you, who do you say that I am.

"And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.”  (Mark 8: 29).

Caesarea Philippi marks a watershed in the Gospel narrative.  What happens at Caesarea Philippi and why does it matter?  First, the Father reveals the identity of Jesus as the Son of God and the expected Messiah.  Secondly Jesus looks you in the eyes and asks you:  “But who do you say that I am?”
The answer you give to this test determines your life here and now and your eternal destiny.

St Jerome, Church Father and Doctor of the Church says:  "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."   Jesus made so many promises during His public ministry.  Each of His promise shows us who He is.  Which of these promises do you appropriate that helps you to answer the question: Who is Jesus?

1.  "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."  (John 15: 13).
2.  "For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him."  (2 Corinthians 5: 21).
3.  "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides."  (Matthew 6: 33).
4.   "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son."  (John 14: 13).

You can know who Jesus is through His words. He is the word of God and He is in His word.

From the Gospel, I know that Jesus is my Lord and my God, my Savior and my Redeemer. He is my Good Shepherd. Jesus is the Promise Maker and the Promise Keeper.

"Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.”  (Mark 8: 29).

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Friday, September 14, 2018

The Heart that is pierced with a sword.

"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home."  (John 19:  26 - 27).

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.  Coming right after the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The Church remembers the Heart of Mary  "pierced with a sword."

"Simeon said to Mary: Behold, this child is destined for the ruin and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign of contradiction; and your own soul a sword will pierce."  (Cf Luke 2: 34 - 35).

On the Cross, Jesus gave us His mother as our mother. (John 19:  26 - 27).  A precious, priceless Gift.

"How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me through His Blessed Mother? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

"To You Jesus will I offer sacrifice of Thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord. My vows to the LORD I will pay in the presence of all his people." 
(Cf Psalm 116:12-13, 17-18).

"O God, who willed that, when your Son was lifted high on the Cross, his Mother should stand close by and share his suffering, grant that your Church, participating with the Virgin Mary in the Passion of Christ, may merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
(Collect, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows).

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Lift high the triumphant Cross!

"Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover." (Numbers 21: 8).

Friday, September 14th is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.  Today, the universal Church lifts high the triumphant Cross from which came the salvation of the world.  What happened in the Desert in Numbers 21 prefigures the real and gruesome sacrifice of Jesus on the altar of the Cross.  Here Jesus is the Victim, the Priest and the Altar of Sacrifice!

"When I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself, says the Lord."  (John 12: 32).

Thank You Jesus!

Brothers and sisters:  "We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered."
(Galatians 6: 14).

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mercy droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven...

"Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful."  (Luke 6:  36).

Mercy is the preeminent attribute of God.  In the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare shows that mercy can also be a human attribute:

"The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes the thronèd monarch better than his crown."

Like the Unforgiving Servant, Shylock in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice ignored the plea for mercy.
Jesus urges us to be merciful as our Heavenly Father is always merciful.  But Abba Father's mercy comes with a condition: "Forgive and you will be forgiven."  (Luke 6: 37).  And again: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."  (Matthew 6: 12).  We see that it is Father's intention to make mercy a human policy.

"Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your eyes.....

I will teach the wicked your ways,
that sinners may return to you."
(Psalm 51: 3 - 6, 15).
The reformed sinner has not only become merciful but is now an evangelist of Mercy.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Congratulations to you who are poor.

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours."  (Luke 6: 20).

St Luke gives his version of the Beatitudes in Luke 6: 20 - 26).
The Beatitude is a faithful portrait of the character of Jesus the Messiah, the Faithful Servant. It begins with a key attribute: material poverty.  Jesus was born of poor parents in a manger. He lived in a poor neighborhood of Nazareth. After he attained the age of puberty, He became an apprentice carpenter in His father's workshop.

When Jesus began His teaching with "Congratulations to you who are materially poor..." His audience would have been delighted. Let us head to the Catechism to see what the Church teaches us on the Beatitudes.

"The Beatitudes reveal the goal of human existence, the ultimate end of human acts: God calls us to his own beatitude. This vocation is addressed to each individual personally, but also to the Church as a whole, the new people made up of those who have accepted the promise and live from it in faith." (CCC 1719).

Man does not live on bread alone. Man does not live on money alone. There is life for man in every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Cf Matthew 4: 4).

"God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise. Beatitude makes us "partakers of the divine nature" and of eternal life. With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ and into the joy of the Trinitarian life." (CCC 1721)

The Beatitude is the blueprint of our Journey of Faith.  Follow it as faithfully as you follow the GPS and it will lead you to our true Homeland.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

I will see you in court.

"How can any one of you with a case against another dare to bring it to the unjust for judgment instead of to the holy ones?"  (1 Corinthians 6: 1).

St Paul upbraided the Corinthian Christians who were new and baby Christians for behaving in a manner completely outside "our manner of doing things."  Every family, every household has its "manner of doing things."  With time, your family manner of doing things become the tradition of your family.  The Christian Church is the Household of God. She too has its manner of acting and doing things.

"If, therefore, you have courts for everyday matters, do you seat as judges people of no standing in the church?"  (1 Corinthians 6: 4).
No! No! No!

"Can it be that there is not one among you wise enough to be able to settle a case between brothers?  But rather brother goes to court against brother, and that before unbelievers?"  (1 Corinthians 6: 5 - 6).
Yes there are many among us who can settle our grievances against one another. O Holy Spirit help us!

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."  (Romans 12: 2).
Got it! When we conform to the "manner of doing things" of the world, we sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.

"I chose you from the world,
that you may go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord." (John 15: 16).
It is our vocation and mission to make the world conform to our manner of doing things not the other way around.

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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Jesus is still speaking through the Scriptures and Magisterium.

"Jesus knew what they were thinking." (Luke 6: 8).

Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking in their hearts.  They condemned Him for healing a man with a withered hand on a Sabbath. (Luke 6: 6 - 11).
Will it scare you to know that Jesus knows what you are thinking about everything?

One of the attributes of God that delights my heart is His omniscience.  God knows everything before it happens.
Jesus knew Judas' treason before it happened. He knew Peter's betrayal before it occurred.  After the Resurrection, Jesus is more willing to forgive Peter than for Peter to accept the clemency and forgive himself.

What do you think is the purpose of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David and Son of Abraham?  (Matthew 1: 1 - 16)  To confound the likes of Pharisees who know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? (Matthew 22: 29).

"My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10: 27).

Jesus is still speaking through the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Magisterium.

"One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?"
(Acts 19: 15).

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Saturday, September 08, 2018

The Lord sustains the fatherless and the widow.

"My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ."
(James 2: 1).

Many RCIA Teams all over the world will be drawing from today's Scriptures to address the topic of Social Justice in their catechetical work.  This is the Scripture the Holy Spirit gives the Church for the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.  The Holy Spirit is not liberal or conservative.  He is simply the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of life, the Author of the Sacred Scriptures, the Sanctifier.  The Church is not progressive or traditional. The Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.  Where the Spirit leads, the Church follows. With this in mind, let us listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches this Sunday.

"The God of Jacob keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets captives free.

"The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down. The LORD loves the just; the LORD protects strangers.

"The fatherless and the widow the LORD sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts. The LORD shall reign forever; your God, O Zion, through all generations.
Alleluia."
(Psalm 146: 7, 8 - 9, 9 10).

Psalm 146, the Responsorial Psalm highlights the themes of the mission of the Messiah.  They are also the themes of the mission of the Church.

"Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you."  (Isaiah 35: 4 - 1st Reading).

There are too many insecure and frightened people in the world today.  What can you do to calm their fears?

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Friday, September 07, 2018

Happy Birthday Sweet Mother!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”  (Matthew 1: 23).

The Universal Church celebrates the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary was chosen, called, prepared and enabled to be the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Cf Romans 8: 30). Mary said Yes immediately to the Archangel Gabriel.  She did not say:  "Let me ask my husband about this.  I will also like to talk to my mother."  It was this openness to grace that made Mary:  "Blessed among women."  (Cf Luke 1: 45).  And every generation continues to call her blessed. (Luke 1: 48)

According to Matthew the Evangelist, Jesus Christ descended directly from Abraham:
"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob........... (Matthew 1: 1 - 2).

After the birth of Jesus, the line of genealogy comes abruptly to an end.
"Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,  Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah."  (Matthew 1: 15 - 16).

A new genealogy begins from Jesus Son of God and Son of Mary. This genealogy includes you and me as royal sons and daughters.

"Let us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God."  (Entrance Antiphon, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

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Thursday, September 06, 2018

How you delight in the LORD.

"Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart’s desire."  (Psalm 37: 4).

Our Bible verse for today is taken from the Responsorial Psalm from the Liturgy of Friday in the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time.

Before we tackle how we can find our delight in the Lord, we want to know what "delight" means. The dictionary defines "delight" by example thus:   "to make (someone) very happy : to give (someone) great pleasure or satisfaction."

We can find our delight in the Lord by being happy in the Lord. We can enjoy friendship with God.  Do you enjoy serving the Lord? I see here the idea of companionship.  Before the Fall, God and Adam enjoyed  walks together in Paradise.  Moses enjoyed friendship with God and talked with God as one friend to another.

Mary sings:  “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."  (Luke 1: 46 - 47).

Do you enjoy praying, reading the Bible? These are key activities that cement friendship with God. Do you like hanging out in Churches?  The Sanctuary is a place where the presence of God is felt.

"Delight yourself in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart."  (Psalm 37: 4 AMP).
Remember: God knows exactly what you need and when you need it.

Constantly seek your happiness in the Lord, and the Lord promises to give you your heart's desire. 

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday of September.

September 7, 2018 - First Friday in September.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 9th month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #9.

#9.  "I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored."

Do you have an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a prominent place in your home? Are you ashamed to displace it? Or do you consider it a childish devotion?
"Jesus replied, "Your mistake is that you don't know the Scriptures, and you don't know the power of God." (Matthew 22: 29).

Jesus Christ 100% God and 100 % Man is proud of His human heritage. He wants His brethren to be reminded of this.  So Jesus mandated His image to be rendered by an artist for the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy devotions. The Church approved these devotions and images.

Patronize the ministry of the Catholic Bookstore by purchasing these images there.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

We worked hard but accomplished nothing.

“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  (Luke 5: 10).

Today's Gospel shows how Jesus called His first disciples.  There are plenty of lessons for everyone.

"After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5: 4).

Where you are and what you are doing now is no accident. You are where you are meant to be.  Jesus sees you.  He knows all about your successes and frustrations.

Jesus tested Simon, a seasoned fisherman to do something that professional fishermen would consider absurd.
"Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”  (Luke 5: 5 - 6).

Mary said to the servants at the first miracle at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.”  (John 2: 5).  Would you do ridiculous things if Jesus asks you to?
Remembering Peter and the miraculous draught of fish and the servants at the Wedding at Cana would be a great inspiration at your moment of testing.  This sacred memory will be grace to anyone when such opportunity comes. It also helps greatly to know who Jesus is:
"The earth is the Lord’s and all it holds, the world and those who dwell in it."  (Psalm 24: 1).  Jesus is the Lord of the earth.

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  (Luke 5:  8).  Most of us will react like Peter in the presence of manifest holiness and power.
Let not thoughts of your unworthiness discourage you.  Remember this:
"And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified."  (Romans 8: 30).

"Lord Jesus, You came to set the world on fire with the good news, Your Gospel. You prayed that its flames would race through our hearts. Send Your Holy Spirit upon us to give us the courage to spread the Good News of Your burning love for us.  May all our hearts be open to change as the light of Your love and message reaches every corner of Your holy Church. May it chase away the darkness of sin and lead even those most distanced from You back into Your loving arms.
We pray to You, Lord Jesus through Mary Your Mother whose plea You will never refuse.  Amen."
(Office of Evangelization. Archdiocese of NY).

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Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Not many people appear to be looking for Jesus.

"The people were looking for him." [Jesus] (Luke 4: 42).

Why was everyone looking for Jesus?  Because He feeds them, heals them and teaches them?  Much more than that.  They are irresistibly drawn to Jesus as iron particles are drawn to a magnet.  Historians say that Rome from its earliest history as the See of St Peter attracts tourists.  Spiritual gurus say that holiness draws people to the holy one in the same manner.

Today, not many people appear to be attracted to Jesus.  On the surface, they appear to be more attracted to money, pleasure, leisure, spots.  This is just on the surface.   St Augustine who is great with words summarized the whole of the Bible on human longing thus:  "O God, thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."

How do we know that St Augustine is correct?  Today it is:  Addiction. Addiction. Addiction.  Nothing will ever satisfy the heart of man except God who stamped His DNA on man when He created Adam.

My friend, where do you fit into this picture?  Jesus says:
“I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”   (Luke 4: 43).

Jesus has turned over this great Enterprise of evangelization to you and me.
"For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building."  (1 Corinthians 3: 9).

"Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
“Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard." (Matthew 20: 6 - 7).

You are hired.

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Monday, September 03, 2018

Why is His word so powerful?

“What is there about his word?" (Luke 4: 36).

The surprised people of Capernaum asked after Jesus cast out an evil spirit with one word. The answer to their question is simple.  What is there about the word of Jesus? It is the word of God. God is inside His word.

Who else felt the power of this word?
"The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed."  (Matthew 8: 8).

Have you ever asked Jesus to say one word and heal any area of your life?

"For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”  (Luke 4: 36).

A father has authority over his children.  He exercises this authority through his words. Does the word of God have authority over you?

"Martha had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to all He said."  (Luke 10: 39). Mary wanted the words of Jesus to have authority over her. So she listened attentively to every word of Jesus.  (Cf Luke 4: 32).
You can do the same.

One of the most creative words in the Bible is Mercy. The word "mercy" occurs 276 times in the Bible. This is a magic word that the Heart of God cannot resist. Everyone that approaches Jesus in the Gospel and pleads for mercy receives mercy instantly.  Listen to the number of times "mercy" is used in Holy Mass.  We hit God at His softest spot.  How many times do you use mercy in your prayers?

Including the very words of God makes our prayers more effective.

"Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I cry to you all the day long.
O Lord, you are good and forgiving,
full of mercy to all who call to you." (Psalm 86: 3,5).

"The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works."  (Psalm 145: 8 - 9).

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us and the whole world.

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Sunday, September 02, 2018

The Manifesto for the Kingdom

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”  (Luke 4: 18 - 19).

Jesus Christ launched His campaign for the Kingdom of God appropriately in His native town, Nazareth.  Everyone in the synagogue including you and me thought they heard this manifesto (Luke 4: 18) somewhere, sometime.  Jesus is quoting from a familiar passage of Isaiah 61 about the Messiah and His mission.  The manner in which He read the passage and concluding words:  “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4: 21) startled everyone in the synagogue.

What does this living word of God mean for you and for me today? We too have been chosen, called and anointed by the Holy Spirit.  Anointed for what?  Anointed to accomplish a purpose in life with the power of the Holy Spirit.

But you may object:  I am too old. I am too poor. I am uneducated. I am too sick. I am too young.  The Lord Jesus answers:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

Faced with this answer, Paul says "I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 
(2 Corinthians 12: 9 - 10).

Do you trust Jesus or do you prefer to trust your own understanding?  (Proverbs 3: 5 - 6).

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I sympathize and pray for Archbishop ViganĂ³

Why I sympathize and pray for Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó

Archbishop Viganó has succumbed like most of us to the great temptation of today:

"Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect."  (Romans 12: 2).

He sowed the wind. Now he is reaping the whirlwind.  (Hosea 8: 7).

Many prelates, priests and lay people who have stopped reading and believing the word of God, who have stopped praying believe that journalists and the ways of the world are wiser than the Scriptures and the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Pope Francis prophetically writes about this below:

"Inner strength, as the work of grace, prevents us from becoming carried away by the violence that is so much a part of life today, because grace defuses vanity and makes possible meekness of heart. The saints do not waste energy complaining about the failings of others; they can hold their tongue before the faults of their brothers and sisters, and avoid the verbal violence that demeans and mistreats others. Saints hesitate to treat others harshly; they consider others better than themselves"
(cf. Phil 2:3).  Gaudete et Exultate #116.

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Saturday, September 01, 2018

You can feel secure about your gifts.

"Dearest brothers and sisters:  All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change."  (James 1: 17).

I have received emails that have in the subject line: "Information that you can use now."  The Scripture from James 1: 17 is Scripture that we can use right here and right now.  In the hustle and bustle of life,  we need to pause to consider the source of the blessings we enjoy: good health, family, great job, strong bank account, etc.  How do you feel when you read that all your blessings actually come from God?
Sacred Scripture wants us to count our blessings:

"Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts, Who pardons all your sins, and heals all your ills, Who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with mercy and compassion, Who fills your days with good things, so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s."  (Psalm 103: 1 - 5).

If every good gift we enjoy comes from God, then we should feel very secure about the gifts we have. (Cf Romans 11: 29).

"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."  (John 13: 17).

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Friday, August 31, 2018

Congratulations My good and faithful servant.

"Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability."  (Matthew 25: 14 - 15).

Have you ever met a human being with zero gift of time, talent or treasure?  No! God gives to each human being a gift of some time, talent or treasure "each according to his ability."  That is, each according to his predestined purpose.

No matter how long it takes the Master to come, be assured that there will be settling of accounts sooner or later.
"After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them." 
(Matthew 25: 19).

Those servants who have made good yields on the investment will be congratulated and promoted. Losers will be severely reprimanded and punished.
"Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy."  (Matthew 25: 21).

To be faithful is to be steadfast, constant in a task. Mary is faithful to prayer.  Mother St Teresa of Kolkata says that God does not expect us to be successful but expects us to be faithful.

"Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters."  (1 Corinthians 1: 26).
Who are you before the Master employed you?  Never forget why you were chosen, called and anointed.

Although we started off being nobodies and having nothing, we have been richly endowed, resourced and placed in good positions to yield rich harvest for our Master.

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

I do not know you, madam.

"Amen, I say to you, I do not know you."  (Matthew 25: 12).

These are the words of the bridegroom [Jesus] to the Five Foolish Virgins. God forbid that anyone of us will hear this sharpest of rebukes on the Last Day. Yet the Foolish Virgins behaved very foolishly.  They were duly warned.  Be prepared.  The Bridegroom has a reputation for being delayed. Expect this. They failed to heed the warning.

Here is another warning:
"Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father."  (Matthew 10: 32 - 33).

Those who are perishing call such warnings foolishness but to us who are being saved it is the wisdom and mercy of God.  (Cf 1 Corinthians 1: 18).

"Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  (John 18: 37).
Do you belong to the truth? Do you recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd?

"Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."  (Matthew 25: 13).

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

You also must be prepared.

"Jesus said to His disciples: 'Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come."  (Matthew 24: 42).

Two lessons I learned as a Boy Scout have served me well:
#1. "Be Prepared."
#2.  "Fortune favors the brave."  Or "Fortune favors the prepared mind."

Thank You Jesus for these nuggets of wisdom that have blessed us so much in life.  Make us ready and well prepared every moment for everything as we joyfully wait for Your coming.

Jesus wants us to be prepared for His coming anytime.
"So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."
(Matthew 24: 44).

St Augustine writes:  "If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, all is well."  Prayer is core to all preparation.
My brethren, "What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" (Mark 8: 36).

"My master is long delayed." 
(Matthew 24:  48). Wrong attitude!

Here is a comforting promise:
"He [God] will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."  (1 Corinthians 1: 8 8 - 9).

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

I grant you half of my kingdom.

 “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.”  (Mark 6: 23).

This is the boast of King Herod, a mere mortal.  Do you see why it is said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely? 

Here is the promise of the Father to His Son Jesus:
"Ask it of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and, as your possession, the ends of the earth."  (Psalm 2: 8).
Is Herod playing god?

The young princess who delighted Herod by her dance knew how to manipulate men.
“I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”  (Mark 6: 25).
This is what her mother wanted in order to remove once and for all the menace of John the Baptist.

"So he [Herod] promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison." (Mark 6: 27).

The true story:  God,  willed that Saint John the Baptist should go ahead of His Son both in his birth and in his death.  The martyrdom of John the Baptist is in accordance with the gracious plan of God.

"John answered and said:
He must increase; but I must decrease."  (John 3: 27, 30). He sacrificed his life completely for Jesus.  We too must decrease if Christ will increase in us.

"And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.... Even all the hairs of your head are counted.  So do not be afraid."  (Matthew 10: 28, 30 - 31).

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Monday, August 27, 2018

The man who said - Receive what you are and become what you receive.

"Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours."  (2 Thessalonians 2: 15).

The Church celebrates today the feast of St Augustine, the son of St Monica whose feast day is August 27th.  Our key Scripture teaches about holding fast to traditions both oral and written.  As Bishop, Church Father and Doctor of the Church, Augustine knows a great deal about Sacred Scripture, Traditions and Church authority.

Augustine had great passion for Jesus, truth and the Church.  He evangelized relentlessly by preaching and writing. Some of his best known words are:
"O Lord, You have made us for Yourself. Our hearts are restless until they rest in You."  How true!
On the Eucharist, Augustine writes:
"Receive what you are and become what you receive."  Great challenge but this is the Christian vocation.  To become like Jesus.

Saints Monica and Augustine pray for us.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

When you are under trials, do not reduce your prayers and good works.

"We ought to thank God always for you, brothers, as is fitting, because your faith flourishes ever more."  (2 Thessalonians 1: 3).

St Paul congratulates the Thessalonian Christians on their growing faith. Very interesting.  But how does St Paul know that their faith is flourishing?
Because of their "endurance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions" they experience. (2 Thessalonians 1: 4).

So when you endure in your prayers, word of God and good works under afflictions and persecutions, rejoice because your faith is surely growing.  If you give up your practice of faith under God’s afflicive providences, you put your faith in reverse gear. Don't do it.

"This is evidence of the just judgment of God, so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God for which you are suffering."  (2 Thessalonians 1: 5).

St James joined Paul in teaching the great lesson of perseverance under trial:
"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  (James 1: 2 - 4).

So brothers and sisters,  "Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?"  (Hebrews 12: 7).

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Do you also want to leave?

"Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”  (John 6: 67).

Today thousands are leaving the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of the Eucharist and heading to New Age, Yoga, Eastern Mystery Religions, so-called non-denominational churches but in reality denominational churches of the pastors.

There is no surprise about all this because "Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him."  (John 6: 64).

But those sanctified with faith by the Holy Spirit will respond like Peter: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”  (John 6: 68 - 69).

I too have come to know and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Way, the Truth and the Life.  I raise up my hand and declare with Joshua:
“If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  (Joshua 24: 15).

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Matthew 12: 30).

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Practice what you preach.

"They preach but they do not practice."  (Matthew 23: 3).

Jesus tackles a key problem of the scribes and Pharisees in the Gospel of today.  He is not castigating the necessary work of all preachers, evangelists, teachers of the word, catechists, parents etc.  His message is pointed and can be understood by a child.  When you practice what you preach, your message is so much authentic and effective.  No missionary dares overlook this lesson.  The people you evangelize are watching you closely. They have one question in their minds:  "Is he real?"

Let us consider some of the things we teach and preach that we should practice:
Faith, patience, kindness, goodness, humility, chastity, mercy, etc.  All these are qualities of Jesus.

How do we practice Mercy for example?  Remember the ABC of Mercy?
Ask for Mercy.
Be Merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

Sounds simple? Yes indeed. God Never refuses Mercy to anyone who asks.  Remember the steward who owes his master over $100 million and could not repay him?  The Master [Jesus] said to the servant:
"You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to." (Matthew 18: 32).
No matter how much debt/sin we have, God is willing to forgive us everything, always and everywhere.
He wants us to be merciful to people who owes us much less.

So brothers and sisters,
Believe what you hear/read from the word of God.
Teach what you believe.
Practice what you teach.
And you will hear from the Master:
"Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy."  (Matthew 25: 21).

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

My Eyes are always on you.

"Jesus answered [Nathaniel] and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”  (John 1: 48).

The astonished Nathaniel exclaimed that whoever could do this is the Son of God and the King of Israel.  But we Christians, sons and daughters of God know that Jesus is aware of where we are this moment and every moment.  He knows our thoughts and our desires.  He is aware of all our predicaments, our needs right to minutest one. David writes in the Psalms that we cannot hide from God. (Cf Psalm 139: 7 - 12). Don't even try.

Aren't you super delighted to know that the all-pervasive Big Eye of God is following you everywhere.  All for your good and not for your disaster. (Cf Jeremiah 29: 11).  He who promised "Behold I am with you always" (Matthew 28: 20) can never deceive nor be deceived.  He urges you to cast all your cares on Him and promises to sustain you because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5: 7). He is worthy of your trust.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Everything is ready. Come on to the party.

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son."  (Matthew 22: 2).

Remember that the Church is the seed of the Kingdom of God on earth.  Remember too that the wedding feast is the image of the Eucharist and the King here is Jesus.

The King cries out: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast." (Matthew 22: 4).

A heart felt invitation is issued to the friends of the King.  See what happens:

"Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.  The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them."  (Matthew 22: 5 - 6).

Not only did many of the invited guests reject the invitation contemptuously but to add grave insult to injury, some guests mistreated the messengers and killed them. The chosen and invited guests have proved themselves very unworthy of the great honor done to them.

Sunday is the day Christians are asked to leave work and worldly past times and come and worship the Lord.  How sad it is to read that less than 30% accept the invitation. What is going on?

"Many are invited, but few are chosen.”  (Matthew 22: 14).
Lord Jesus, help us to be the ones who are chosen.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Queen stands at Your right hand..

"O God, who made the Mother of your Son to be our Mother and our Queen, graciously grant that, sustained by her intercession, we may attain in the heavenly Kingdom the glory promised to your children.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever." (Collect on the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary).

The Church celebrates today the feast of Mary as Queen of Heaven and earth.

Jesus in His public ministry talked about the Kingdom of God more than any other subject. Indeed, in the great prayer, Our Father, Jesus inserted "Thy Kingdom Come!" A reminder that the key desire of His heart should be ours too.

Why did Jesus crown His Mother Queen?  Jesus is the King of the Universe. Where there is a king, there is a kingdom. Where there is a kingdom, there are subjects, laws and needs. Jesus is not just a King but also our able High Priest, who intercedes for us constantly before the throne of His Father. Mary is Queen to intercede before His Son Jesus and to give us confidence to approach the throne of grace and mercy.  In fact, the saints in Heaven enjoy all the promised blessings of Paradise while at the same time interceding for their loved ones on earth.  This does not diminish the status of Jesus Christ as our great High Priest. Jesus is not jealous of our role as intercessors. It is His gracious Will.

Mary, Mother and Queen pray for us.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

You will receive a hundred times more.

"And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life."  (Matthew 19: 29).

What have you given up for Jesus?
What price have you paid for discipleship? What daily sacrifices do you make as a follower of Jesus?

The promise made by Jesus in Matthew 19: 29 is exciting.  What is your response?

People who are generous in responding to the invitation of Jesus experience true peace and security, joy and fulfillment.  They begin to relish the delights of eternal right here and right now.

"Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich so that by his poverty you might become rich."  (2 Corinthians 8: 9).

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Impossible to love God and mammon.

"When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions."  (Matthew 19: 22).

What did the rich young man heard that caused him such emotional turmoil?

“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  (Matthew 19: 21).

Being rich and having many possessions is not bad.  What is rebuked here is having attachment to anything.  It is a sin against the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me."  (Exodus 20: 3). Any unhealthy love for any creature is considered idolatry.

What are you attached to?
Money, possessions, comfort, dog?
"For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."  (Matthew 6: 21).

Jesus also warned us:  "Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."  (John 6: 27).

What shall you do to be free of attachment to creatures?  Ask Abba Father to prune you gently.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit."  (John 15: 1 - 2).

Blessed are they who are pruned of their attachments, they shall yield abundant fruits for the Kingdom of God. O God, You made us for Yourself, may our heart be restless until it rests in You.  Amen.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

My flesh is true food.

"Jesus said to the crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  (John 6: 51).

Once again we savor the Bread of life Discourse.  This teaching is so important for the life of the Christian and the Church that Mother Church is never tired of serving this menu again and again.

"For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."  (John 6: 55 - 56).

Those who come to the Table of the Lord must leave their lofty learning behind. This Food is for the simple of heart, the childlike, the lowly.

“Let whoever is simple turn in here;
to the one who lacks understanding, she says,
Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9: 4 - 6).

What is your response to Jesus? Come to the Table and "taste and see the goodness of the Lord."  (Psalm 34: 9).

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Jesus who did not sin died for the sins of the world.

"Only the one who sins shall die!"  (Ezekiel 18: 4).
The word of the Lord.

"But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die."  (Genesis 3: 3).

In today's first Reading, the Prophet Ezekiel corrects the mistaken notion of the People of God on sin and responsibility.  The people believed that they suffer for the sins of their fathers and mothers.  O no, says the Lord God.  "Only the one who sins shall die!"  (Ezekiel 18: 4).

The wages of sin continue to be death. (Romans 6: 23).  But God has no pleasure in the death of anyone.  He wants everyone of His children to be converted to Him and live!  (Ezekiel 18: 32).

"A clean heart create for me, O God;
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me."  (Psalm 51: 12 - 13).

"Holy Father and Lord, You willed that Christ Your Son should be the price of our salvation. Give us grace so to live that through sharing his sufferings we may be strengthened by the power of his resurrection..." (Prayer at Vespers, Friday, 19th Week of Ordinary Time).

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Is divorce permitted?

“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”  (Matthew 19: 3).

Is divorce permitted? The Pharisees asked Jesus.  Jesus used this question to teach us God's original plan for marriage between one man and one woman.  God joined man and woman together to become one for life.
If this is so, what is the reason for the prevalent heart-wrenching divorces? Hardness of heart or sin is the cause, Jesus answered.  This is how the Church explains the progression of the hardness of heart:

"The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay".Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground", for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history."  (CCC 400).

What sin has torn asunder, Jesus Christ has reconciled in His body by giving man and woman the means and tools to live in harmony.  The Church accompanies the married couples on their journey of faith with the Sacraments: Matrimony, Eucharist, Reconciliation. The Church provides a number of effective tools as aid to harmony: marriage preparation classes, counseling, Cursillo, Encounters, etc.

Like any vocation, it is impossible for marriage to work outside the framework of sacraments, tools and resources provided by the Providence of God for the institution today.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I forgave you your entire debt because you begged Me.

"The servant fell down, did him  homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’  Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan."  (Matthew 18: 26 - 27).

The above verses are from the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.
Jesus taught us in the Lord's Prayer: Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6: 12).

Forgiveness or Mercy is at heart of the Gospel.  Not only did Jesus teach this message every opportunity but He demonstrated it practically from the Cross.  He forgave the Good Thief.  And while still experiencing the terrible agony of the Cross, He forgave everyone who played a part to place Him on the Cross including yourself and me.

Some people think that to forgive a grievous offense is so hard. Perhaps it is.  Can you try this prayer every morning?
"Father, forgive all my sins.  I forgive completely everyone who has ever offended me.  I pray you grant the grace to all those I have ever offended to forgive me and release me from their anger. I ask for this in the Name of Your Son Jesus who commands us to forgive."

"You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to."  (Matthew 18: 32).

Remember the ABC of Mercy:
Ask for Mercy.
Be Merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Rejoice O Most Blessed Virgin Mary!

"The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name."  (Luke 1: 49).

The Mighty God has truly done great things for Mary.  The Church throughout the world rejoices today as she celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Let us consider four of the stupendous things the Mighty God has done for Mary:

#1 The Immaculate Conception:  Mary, chosen before the foundation of the world to be the Mother of Jesus was preserved from the curse of Original Sin. She was born without the taint of sin.
#2 The Annunciation: The Archangel Gabriel brought the message of salvation to Mary. Mary said YES!
#3  The Assumption:  At the end of her earthly life, Mary is taken up to heaven as chorus of angels exulted.
#4  Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and earth.

Mary was declared by the Archangel Gabriel, messenger of God to be "full of grace." (Luke 1: 28).  Mary in the Magnificat prophesied "Behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed." (Luke 1: 48).  Billions of Hail Marys are said every day proclaiming Mary blessed.

On the occasion of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, let the Church rejoice with all the angels and saints in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Who is a little child?

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18: 3).

We have noted the magnificent obsession of Jesus for the wonderful place and state He calls the Kingdom of God.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2: 9).

Throughout His public ministry, Jesus laid out the qualifying principles for entrance into this Kingdom.  We shall look at one today:  A childlike attitude.  What is this?

+ Innocence (sinlessness)
+ Simple
+ Humble
+ Trusting
+  Forgiving
+  Living here and now

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”  (John 3: 4).

"Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit."  (John 3: 5).

Here is the secret! The Holy Spirit must affect the transformation.  If this transformation is not completed during your allotted life span, it will be finished in Purgatory, the Church teaches.

"It is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18: 14).

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Why did the disciples forget 3 predictions of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus?

"As they [disciples] were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 17:  22 - 23).

How is it possible that the disciples of Jesus could ever forget such a prediction? If you are in the inner circle of the leadership of an important person, can you forget this type of warning from your leader?  The disciples understood clearly what Jesus meant because their "hearts were filled with sorrow and dread."  (Matthew 17: 23 TLB).

Consider also two other predictions of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus:
"From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." (Matthew 16: 21).

And a 3rd prediction:
"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 20: 18 - 19).

Why did the disciples forget 3 predictions of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus?  Why were they so unprepared for the gory events of Good Friday?  Why was their initial reaction to the news of the Resurrection complete unbelief?

Jesus predicted His Second Coming.  Will the Church remember? Will Christians be ready?  If Jesus knocks on your door tonight, how do you welcome Him?

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Take my life, O Lord!

"This is enough, O Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”  (1 Kings 19: 4).

Elijah, the great Prophet is in big trouble. Jezebel has placed a price on his head. This provoked a depression and a burn out.  Can this happen to a great man of God? It can happen to anyone.  It happened to Jeremiah, John the Baptist. From the Cross, Jesus cried out:  ""Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"  (Matthew 27: 46).

The mystery of Divine Providence is profound. But God never forsakes His servant.  And He brought food to the weary Elijah.
“Get up and eat!”  (1 Kings 19: 5)
"Get up and eat!" reminds us of "Take and eat."  (Matthew 26: 26). In the later, the food is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

“Get up and eat or the journey will be too much for you!”  (1 Kings 19: 7).
The food that Elijah was offered and the Eucharist has this thing in common:  Both are food for the Journey.

"Elijah got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb."  (1 Kings 19: 8).

Jesus offers us the living bread that comes down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that He gives is His flesh for the life of the world.”  (Cf John 6: 51).

Everyone is invited to taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who trusts in Jesus (Cf Psalm 34: 8).

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Friday, August 10, 2018

It is God's plan that we learn to wait.

"Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision
clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late."  (Habakkuk 2: 2 - 3).

Recently a young friend shared with me a story about a woman who is waiting for Mr Right. She is now 56.   Habakkuk 2: 2 - 3 is one of the great Scriptures on waiting for God's timing.  Habakkuk's lesson is timeless.
It proclaims the truth that God is faithful to all His promises. It teaches the profound mystery of Divine Providence.  It affirms that the Razor Precision Providence of God is Never Late!  Mind you, God knows exactly what you need and when you need it.  God is like a Super GPS taking us to our destination. (Cf Jeremiah 29: 11).

"They trust in you who cherish your name, for you forsake not those who seek you, O LORD."  (Psalm 9: 11).
God will never forget those who trust Him.
"The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live."  (Habakkuk 2: 4).

In the Gospel of today, Jesus our Teacher points to the infinite value of even a tiny grain of faith:

"Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  (Matthew 17: 20).

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

God loves a cheerful giver.

JESUS SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."  (John 12: 24).

When we are ready to submit our puny will to the gracious will of God, everything in life becomes possible.  In God's will is our peace and prosperity.  Why do we struggle to have our way in everything?  There must be a dying to our will in order to live fully the life that Christ the Redeemer died for us all.

Whatever it is O man, surrender your will to God and live. "God loves a cheerful giver."  (2 Corinthians 9: 7). Trust, Surrender and Obey.

"Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me."  (John 12:  26).

Jesus our Leader and Captain asks us to follow where He leads.

When you follow Jesus, you shall not fear an ill report; your heart is steadfast, trusting the Lord. Your heart is tranquil, without fear, till at last you look down on his foes.  (Cf Psalm 112: 7 - 8).

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